FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2016
Nick Sifuentes, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-600-8329
Riders Alliance Survey Reveals 77% of L Train Riders Want Full Closure Over 18 Months; Riders Call for City, MTA to Take Aggressive Measures on Alternate Transit During Shutdown
Hundreds of L Train Riders Weigh In Calling for Increased Subway and Bus Service, New Bike and Ferry Options During L Train Shutdown
Riders Alliance Sends Request to MTA to Choose 18-Month Shutdown Option
New York – After collecting hundreds of responses from L train commuters, the Riders Alliance announced today that 77% of respondents who live along the L train prefer a full shutdown of the L train through the Canarsie tunnel for eighteen months, as opposed to a three-year partial shutdown that would leave the L running at 20% of capacity. At the same time, the Riders Alliance released a letter to the MTA endorsing the 18-month shutdown option and asking the MTA to consider survey respondents’ preferences for increased public transit during the repair period.
Hundreds of riders weighed in with recommendations for various public transit options to ensure commuters can still get to and from work, school, and home, including:
- Increased service on lines that feed into or run parallel to the L, including the G, the J and Z, and the A and C.
- Dedicated bus lanes along 14th in Manhattan and along the Williamsburg Bridge to compensate for service across the East River
- Expansion of CitiBike and dedicated bike lanes along the Williamsburg Bridge
- Increased ferry service across the river.
Following today’s press conference, the Riders Alliance and the Regional Plan Association are launching a Twitter campaign, using the hashtag #fixtheL, to collect ideas from riders about how the L line and its stations could be improved during the shutdown.
Riders pointed out that a shutdown will have a tremendous impact on neighborhoods already straining under current public transit options. According to MTA data, the L has seen tremendous growth, with ridership tripling since 1990. Currently, over 225,000 riders travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan daily, and an additional 50,000 use the L to travel within Manhattan.
“On a good day, the L train is nearly filled to capacity whenever I leave for work, be it 7:30 or 10:00 in the morning. When there is even a minute delay, the trains are packed, uncomfortable, and slow. An unmanageable number of people commute on the L train. The MTA will have to employ multiple options for transporting commuters, including high-frequency buses on dedicated bus lanes across the Williamsburg bridge and buses from Williamsburg through Queens across the 59th Street bridge as a bare minimum,” said Alexis Saba, Riders Alliance member and L train rider.
The Riders Alliance was joined today by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, the L Train Coalition, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, the Regional Plan Association, and NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign. Advocates spoke in favor of robust public transit options during the shutdown.
“The L Train Coalition hopes the MTA seizes the opportunity now to make improvements to the system to the best of their ability, such as opening currently-shuttered exits along related lines and increasing service transfer options,” said Felice Kirby of the L Train Coalition.
“A full closure provides a rare opportunity to transform the L train to accommodate the ridership demands of the future,” said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association. “It would be a shame to carry out much-needed repairs to the tunnels, only to return riders to the same overcrowded, inadequate stations and infrastructure 18 months later. We look forward to working with this coalition, the MTA and DOT on both a robust mitigation strategy during the shutdown and on permanent upgrades to the L train corridor.”
Cate Contino Cowit of NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign said: “Today we know two things: that the Canarsie Tubes must be repaired and that riders care deeply about how those repairs will be implemented. Navigating this enormous challenge will require flexibility by the agencies and vigilance by the impacted communities.”
“Whether the L train is shut down fully for eighteen months, or operating at limited capacity for three years, the City will need to fundamentally rethink transportation in the communities losing subway service,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The Riders Alliance survey demonstrates the strong public demand for investments in protected bike lanes, safer walking corridors and bus priority on 14th street, which will all be essential to keep New Yorkers moving during the shutdown, no matter its duration.”
Elected officials also supported the effort to make sure riders are part of the conversation around the L train closure and alternate transportation options.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY12) said: “The L Train repairs give us an opportunity to find new ways to move people around the city. For the neighborhoods most impacted, I urge the MTA to work with the City, the community, Riders Alliance, Straphangers Alliance, Transportation Alternatives the Regional Plan Association and others to explore a broad range of solutions, including select bus service, shuttle buses, ferries, dedicated bus lanes and increased subway service. We cannot afford to allow neighborhoods along 14th Street and Northern Brooklyn to become inaccessible during construction.”
“The results of the Riders Alliance survey are precisely why we asked that L Line riders have a seat at the table as plans to repair the Canarsie tunnels take shape. Moving forward, I’m certain the same openness and transparency will guarantee that the best plan and the best ideas on how to provide alternative services during the work will be set in motion,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.
“I would like to first thank the Riders Alliance and the L Train Coalition for their leadership in engaging the community, as well as the Regional Plan Association for providing their insight. Without transportation advocacy groups, riders’ voices would not be heard. The L train and Canarsie Tube closure will severely impact riders and businesses, but we must all work together to ensure the negative impact is lessened as much as possible. I look forward to continuing the discussions with my constituencies over the coming months so their opinions and suggestions can be effectively relayed to the MTA,” said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn).
“As we make critical fixes to our city’s aging infrastructure, we must listen to our communities affected by service shut-downs. Maintenance on the L train is much needed, but will place a strain on nearby neighborhoods—and it is imperative that we work together to ease the burden. We must continue investing in our entire transportation and infrastructure system, and give commuters the transit system they deserve,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.
“During the shutdown of the L train, the MTA must adopt an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to keep residents of Williamsburg, Bushwick, Brownsville, East New York, and Canarsie connected to the rest of our city,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “The MTA has the ability and the responsibility to reduce the disruption that Brooklyn residents and business owners will experience, providing a variety of alternate routes including expanded service on other subway lines, a dedicated lane for buses on the Williamsburg Bridge, and more choices for commuters who want to travel by ferry or bicycle. I urge the MTA to continue its dialogue with stakeholders from every community of Brooklyn that depends on the L train to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan, one that fulfills all of the needs unique to those communities.”
“If there’s no practical way to avoid a full shutdown of the L train, then the state and city must do absolutely everything in their power to keep the New Yorkers who depend on the L train moving,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Robust ferry service with frequency to rival the L train itself, smooth connections, increased service on alternate subway lines, a dedicated ‘L bus’, and the partial or full closure of 14th Street should all be on the table.”
“As the MTA plans this necessary work, surveys like this are incredibly helpful,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Collecting this type of data is absolutely critical to ensure that this work has as little impact as possible on the countless residents, businesses and visitors who will be impacted. I thank the Riders Alliance, the Regional Plan Association, and the L Train Coalition for their dedication to the millions of people who use our public transportation system every day.”
The Riders Alliance is a grassroots organization of subway and bus riders, pushing for better service at affordable fares and a stronger public investment in mass transit. Visit us at ridersny.org.